Importance of good newspapers
The importance of good newspapers cannot be over-rated. The following high testimony in their favour, in an extract of a letter from the “Father of his Country,” to the late Mathew Carey, Esq. was written June 25, 1788.
“For myself I entertain a high opinion of the utility of periodical publications. I consider such easy vehicles of knowledge more happily calculated than any other, to preserve the LIBERTY, stimulate the industry, and meliorate the morals of an enlightened and free people.”
No Family should be without one or more newspapers. It cultivates in children a desire for reading, and a disposition to learn and improve, renders them considerate, intelligent, and more easily governed.
The number of newspapers in England is 230( in 1841), and the annual average number of convictions for murder is thirteen. The number of newspapers in Spain a few years ago was one, and the annual number of convictions for murder was upwards of twelve hundred.
How many thoughtless young men have spent their evenings in a tavern or grog-shop, which ought to be devoted to reading! how many parents who never spent twenty dollars for books or for papers for their families, would gladly have given thousands to reclaim a son or a daughter who had ignorantly and thoughtlessly fallen into temptation!
An Editor’s position is one of great responsibility, too often misunderstood or unappreciated, and too frequently assumed by the vicious and incompetent. The only correction is in the people’s withholding patronage from such newspapers, as indulge in personal abuse and immoralities, which make some newspapers as great a curse to the community as others are blessings.
The Encouragement bestowed on the press should be prompt, liberal, and always in advance. Advance payments are rendered essential to the welfare, if not existence of a newspaper, from the smallness of the sums, the distance to which they are scattered, and the difficulty of collecting, arising from the absence of subscribers when called upon, the want of preparation when found, and the various delays, vexations, and expenses, always attending the collection of many small sums. Besides the impositions to which publishers are exposed, should make their real friends willing to concur in the only rule which can afford protection against dishonest delinquents.
A person receiving a newspaper is bound by law as well as custom and justice, to pay for it so long as he may continue to receive it, notwithstanding any agreement or direction that may have been made for its discontinuance.
“A newspaper can drop the same thought into a thousand minds at the same moment. A newspaper is an adviser who does not require to be sought, but comes to you of its own accord, and talks to you briefly every day of the common weal, without distracting your private affairs. Newspapers, therefore, become more necessary in proportion as men become more equal, and individuals more to be feared. To suppose that they only serve to protect freedom, would be to diminish their importance; they maintain civilization.”
ADMONITION–The tavern-haunter drinks till he feels himself half-ruined; he is wretched; he drinks to drown his wretchedness; he does drown it, and his soul along with it!
To young men, beginning life, especially to newly married men, the counsel is seasonable: Reverence the Fireside. Admit no rival here. Let your chief joys be shared by her who has forsaken all other hearts and hopes for you; by those who must inherit honour or disgrace from your course of life. Shun the bar-room and the purlieus of intoxication. They are, to thousands, the avenues to infamy.
Source : American Pocket Library of Useful Knowledge (1841) by Thomas Curtis Clarke